Lean Launch for HoursOf.com Beta
On February 5th, we launched a Beta version of HoursOf.com – a local search engine that filters for OPEN businesses near you. It is certainly a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), meaning it doesn’t have every feature you could hope for (in fact, it’s striving to be only the essential features). This is because our goal is to determine what users want and offer those features, rather than building a comprehensive suite of features based only on assumptions of user needs/wants.
The simple version of the lean startup methodology is: Iterative MVP-style Product Development & Customer Validation, then (only upon validation) Scale & Execute building the company.
Below is a run-down of the HoursOf.com functionality, along with a quick summary of our approach/guiding principles. Feedback is extremely welcome & appreciated, either to our feedback email or via the feedback tool on HoursOf.com. Thanks in advance!
Features (of the minimum viable product):
1. Geo-Location / Location. On both mobile and desktop browsers, HoursOf will ask permission to use your location (no GPS needed). If your browser doesn’t support geo-location (or you choose not to share), you’ll be asked to enter a city/state or zip code in order to search. This feature also enables you to search for other locations, for example if you are planning a trip to another city.
2. Search or Browse by Category. With only 1 click, you can browse one of the categories (restaurants, pharmacies, gas stations) and see Open places. Alternatively, you can type in a search query. For example, Walgreens (place name), Copy/Print (business type), or even a food type such as Thai or BBQ.
3. Check Out The Results. You’ll first see Open Places with a very clear Open Till time showing. We also show the daily open/close hours in case you are looking for a different day, plot the places on a Google Map, as well as show some basic info: address, phone, website, and Google review rating (with a link to complete reviews).
4. Filtered Results & Reporting Incorrect Info. By default your results are filtered for Open Places, but with only 1 click of the filter buttons at the top of the page you can choose to also show Closed Places, or those with Unlisted Hours. However, occasionally even almighty Google (our primary data source) has incorrect data, so we have a simple Report Incorrect Info link to help us improve.
Methodology & Guiding Principles:
1. Operate with a Lean Startup Mindset. Focus on determining what is (most) valuable to the customer & validating iteratively.
2. We Care About What Customers Care About. Currently we believe that is Data Comprehensiveness & Data Accuracy. Make decisions according to those priorities.
3. Application Simplicity. While iterating and adding features, be mindful of adding complexity. Look for ways of integrating features & site improvements that are non-intrusive to the user experience.
4. Do not recreate the wheel. If another company has already nailed it, link/integrate with them.